How to put an elephant on a treadmill

An overweight elephant in the Anchorage zoo—the only of its species in the northernmost American state—will soon have her own personal training apparatus to help her shed kilos.

Maggie, aged 22, tips the scales at four tonnes.

“She has to lose at least 100kg,” zoo director Tex Edwards said this week.

The zoo is investing up to $100 000 dollars to build a custom elephant treadmill, an engineering feat that has enlisted the talents of mining engineers familiar with transporting heavy loads on conveyer belts.

Edwards said Maggie is lazy but smart, and should be able to learn how to use the device. After eating, which ranks as her favourite pastime, Maggie enjoys splashing in the pool in the summertime and beating on the ice with her trunk when it freezes over in winter. She also likes rolling in the snow.

Maggie’s situation in the far north has attracted the attention of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which last

month charged she lives a “sad life of solitary confinement in a frosty environment”.

An outside expert from the famed San Diego Zoo in California flew in to Anchorage and determined that Maggie is in good shape—but needs to lose weight.

Maggie arrived in Alaska as a one-year-old from South Africa in 1983.
Until 1997, she had the companionship of an Asian elephant, Annabelle, who died that year.—Sapa-DPA

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